World News 22 Mayıs 2024

Airline apologises for 'trauma' as British man who died after severe turbulence named

Airline apologises for 'trauma' as British man who died after severe turbulence named

The 73-year-old British man who died from a suspected heart attack after “sudden extreme turbulence” on a London-Singapore flight has been named as Geoff Kitchen.

Dozens more were injured in the incident, with passengers describing people being “launched into the ceiling” and overhead lockers.

Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 from Heathrow was forced to make an emergency landing at Bangkok Airport in Thailand.

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British passenger Geoff Kitchen died during severe turbulence on the flight to Singapore.

Singapore Airlines has apologised and said they are “fully cooperating with the relevant authorities on the investigations”.

Mr Kitchen, from Thornbury near Bristol, was on a six-week holiday with his wife to Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.

His wife is believed to be in hospital following the incident.

In a post on Facebook, Thornbury Musical Theatre Group paid tribute to Mr Kitchen: “It is with a heavy heart that we learn of the devastating news of the passing of our esteemed colleague and friend Geoff Kitchen in the recent Singapore air incident.

“Geoff was always a gentleman with the utmost honesty and integrity and always did what was right for the group.

“His commitment to TMTG was unquestionable and he has served the group and the local community of Thornbury for over 35 years, holding various offices within the group, including chairman, treasurer and most recently secretary.

Airline apologises for 'trauma' as British man who died after severe turbulence named
Image:
Lizzie Adkin said Mr Kitchen was ‘one of the best human beings you could know’

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and the family at this difficult time, and we ask that you respect their privacy.”

Lizzie Adkin, who was part of the theatre group with Mr Kitchen described him as “one of the best human beings you could know”.

She told Sky News he played various roles on stage but her favourite was one of the ugly sisters in the pantomime Cinderella.

Airline apologises for 'trauma' as British man who died after severe turbulence named
Image:
Mr Kitchen (R) as an ugly sister in Cinderella

‘Seatbelts spared some from injury’

Kittipong Kittikachorn, head of Bangkok airport, said earlier that the 73-year-old died from a probable cardiac arrest.

Forty-seven Britons were among the 211 passengers and 18 crew onboard the plane, a Boeing 777-300ER.

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Extreme turbulence comes ‘out of the blue’

A spokesperson for Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital said: “Seventy-one people needed treatment and six of them had critical injuries.”

However, Singapore Airlines seemed to contradict those numbers and said only 30 people had been taken to hospital.

Read more:
Images show damage inside plane
Turbulence is getting worse – here’s why

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Plane passengers speak from hospital

Speaking to Sky News, passengers said seatbelts spared some from injury, while others described flight attendants as having cuts to their heads.

Australian Teandra Tukhunen, who had her left arm in a sling in Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, said she was asleep and “woken up because I was thrown to the roof and then to the floor”.

Ms Tukhunen, 30, said when the seatbelt sign came on “pretty much immediately, straight after that I was flung to the roof, before I had time to put my seatbelt on unfortunately”.

“It was just so quick, over in a couple of seconds and then you’re just shocked. Everyone’s pretty freaked out.”

Turbulence can hit without warning

Jo Robinson

Weather producer

@SkyJoRobinson

There are a few forms of turbulence – where there’s a sudden change in airflow and wind speed.

Turbulence can often be associated with storm clouds, which are usually well forecast and monitored, allowing planes to fly around them.

Clear-Air Turbulence (CAT) is much more dangerous as there are no visual signs, such as clouds.

This invisible vertical air movement usually occurs at and above 15,000ft and is mostly linked to the jet stream.

There are clues on where CAT may occur, but generally it can’t be detected ahead of time, which means flight crews can be caught unaware with no time to warn passengers and put seat belt signs on.

It’s been understood for some time that climate change is increasing turbulence during flights, and the trend is set to worsen according to reports.

Passenger Dzafran Azmir said: “Some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it, they hit the places where lights and masks are and broke straight through it.”

Airline apologises for 'trauma' as British man who died after severe turbulence named
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Singapore Airlines also said the pilot declared a medical emergency and landed in Bangkok after “sudden extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000 feet about 10 hours after departure”.

Its CEO said in a statement on Tuesday morning they were “very sorry for the traumatic experience that everyone on board SQ321 went through” and their priority would be to give “all possible assistance” to passengers and crew.

Goh Choon Phong added a team had been “swiftly” dispatched to Bangkok to help with ground operations and a relief flight with 143 passengers and crew had landed in Singapore at 5.05am local time on Tuesday.

A total of 79 passengers and crew remained in Bangkok, he added.

In a statement, the UK Foreign Office said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Bangkok and are in contact with the local authorities.”

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